Breast thermography is a medical technique used as a first-line screening procedure to assess breast health.
During breast thermography, a highly advanced digital infrared camera and computer measure temperatures radiating from breast tissue and adjacent areas. Temperatures that vary from the norm indicate the possible presence of tumours or precancerous activity within the tissues. Breast thermography can reveal a problem long before any other technique, giving you more time to take action for a more positive outcome. It can be viewed as a proactive way of managing the health of your breasts.
Breast thermography detects functional changes in breast tissue before tumours form or when they are too small to be detected with X-rays. The procedure can detect the first signs of cancer formation before any other diagnostic service currently in use and is 97 per cent sensitive in identifying abnormalities in breast tissue (Thermographic imaging detects temperature differences that can occur when cancers have grown to 200-300 cells, while mammography is only able to detect cancers when they have reached a size of several million cells).
When used with other screening procedures, breast thermography helps to achieve the best possible evaluation of breast health, allowing time for non-invasive therapies to improve breast tissue function. Monitoring with regular check-ups and breast thermography will assess improvements over time or identify that a problem may exist. The procedure is completely safe and requires no uncomfortable compression or radiation. It may be used safely on women of all ages, including women who have breast implants.
Frequently asked questions:
- How does it work?
When precancerous or cancerous tissue is present, abnormalities develop in the blood circulation close to the affected area. Pre-cancerous and cancerous tissue is highly metabolic, and requires a constant supply of nutrients to maintain growth. To receive these nutrients, the cells send out chemicals that increase flow in existing blood vessels and create new ones (a process called angiogenesis). The enhanced blood supply causes an increase in temperature within the affected tissues. This is detected by the infrared camera utilized during breast thermography screening and measured by the computer.
- What takes place during screening?
During your screening, you will be assisted by a caring and knowledgeable technician. The procedure involves no harmful radiation, no compression, and no touching by either the equipment or the technician.
Before undergoing breast thermography screening, you will receive pre-imaging guidelines instructing you how to prepare for your appointment. You will then be directed to sit in front of the infrared camera with your arms raised. Images will be taken from the front, the left side, the right side and from an oblique angle. These images are captured by the newest technology in this field and are analyzed by a team of medical doctors who conduct an in-depth analysis of your screening.
In two or three days, a comprehensive written report of your results will be ready for pick-up or mailing. This can be shared with the health professionals of your choice. A three-month follow-up scan is included in the price of your initial imaging session. This scan will be compared with your initial scan to determine your baseline. If changes are detected in the tissues. it will be recommended that you return for additional scans until your baseline has been accurately determined.
- Who should be screened?
Breast thermography is beneficial to women of all ages. Women may be examined for baseline screening in their early 20s. The screening allows for more precise focus, if required, with medical diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, mammography, or MRI.
Since mammography is generally recommended for women of 50 and over, younger women who want to know the status of their breast tissue can achieve this objective through choosing to undergo Breast Thermography.
- I have an annual mammogram. Will I really benefit from breast thermography?
Absolutely. Since mammography detects only structural changes, a lump or mass must already be present within the breast tissue before a problem is identified. Further investigation using ultrasound and/or a biopsy is then required to determine the appropriate options for treatment. At this relatively advanced stage, it is usually too late to implement preventive strategies and—should the mass be cancerous—treatment options are normally restricted to surgery combined with radiation and/or chemotherapy.
By contrast, breast thermography detects functional changes in breast tissue before tumours form or when they are too small to be detected with X-rays. This allows for preventive therapies to be implemented and the breasts to be monitored with regular scans to determine the treatment’s efficacy. Many women choose to undergo both diagnostic options in their quest for better health of the breasts.
- How is my privacy protected?
Breast thermography screening is conducted in a comfortable and private room. Your results are discussed only with you, and forwarded only to health professionals whom you specify.
- Will my medical insurance cover the cost of thermography?
Some insurance plans provide coverage for thermography, however this procedure is not covered by MSP. If you have alternate or supplemental coverage to MSP, please check with your insurance provider to determine if your specific plan provides coverage.
Book your appointment with us today by calling 604.734.7760.